Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Yesterday there was a lot of discussion of this New York Times article about evangelical missionaries going to Iraq. There are so many lines of attack against the opinions expressed by these people that I'll leave most of them to others. I will point out, however, how this could play in Muslim opinion. Threads of Middle Eastern analysis already point out the importance of the religious right to Bush's support, and tie it in to his support for Israel. Now these same religious conservatives are openly plotting to attack Islam in Iraq. As this Islam On-Line article suggests, many Muslims will become convinced that the "War on Terror" was really a "War on Islam" all along. Together with such things as the Qur'an-reading controversy I discussed yesterday, this creates an even bigger PR mess for the U.S. than we're already in.

One additional note: I don't have a problem with missionaries per se. In fact, because there are people who have left one religion for another and found it fulfilling, they probably serve some sort of useful purpose. However, I also don't buy post-modern suggestions that we shouldn't freely criticize this group of evangelicals, which believe they are doing a good thing. As a Christian, I'll gladly argue with them on theological grounds. And I suspect that when they enter into serious discussions with Muslims who have become disillusioned with their religion, some of them will develop more complex ideas rather quickly.


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